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Why Don’t You Meditate?



Like many Social Workers, Therapists, and Nurses, I entered into the healing profession to make  a difference in the lives others.  I was taught by my mother the importance of giving to others, sharing what you have with those who did not have, was the best way to live.  I  watched my mother get involved with numerous community groups and projects.  I watched her juggle holidays events, PTA meetings and being there for her children. What I did not see,  was her take a break.  I never saw her collapse on the bed with exhaustion.  I always saw her doing something for someone else and never for herself.   Women were trained and groomed to “do it all” and to have  smile on our faces while we do.

That is not my paradigm….anymore.   In my mid twenties I entered into the Social Work profession. Though I had some great self care tools, and I used them,  it was not until I had suffered major losses in my life that I  completely embraced self care as a way of life.  We can know what to do, even teach others what to do to take care of themselves, but until it becomes a part of our lives, there will always be gaps. When the stressful time is over  and the self care is no longer needed, it will be very easy to slip back into what you were taught or what was modeled to you as a child.  The go go go and do do do attitude is not just modeled by our parents,  it  is woven within the fabric of our American culture. The  attitude of “there is no time” is pervasive, especially in the healing  service professions.

I would like to introduce a remedy.  Meditation!!  Yes, I know it is not new and holistic practitioners and free thinking leaders  have talked about  using meditation as a self care, stress reduction tool for centuries. But here is the thing, it really works when you use it, internalize it and make it a part of your life and not just a novelty.  As a Social Worker it was the most beneficial tool for burnout prevention and intervention I ever used. It has been  the most centering and loving tool I used  to support my life.

Many of us want to meditate but, for some reason it has not come to fruition.  I knew a woman who loved her yoga class, but at the end of her class she got up and left because she felt lying in corpse position was a waste of time. I challenged her to explore her feelings a little deeper about leaving when she was invited to be still.

It came down to safety, she simply did not feel safe in her own body.   I  find the main reason people do not meditate, is because they do not feel safe.  Safety is not just about our physical surroundings, emotional  and spiritual safety are also components to allowing ourselves to be still. So many of us fear what is within the silence, we do not trust there is a part of us that is safe and does not need to control every outcome. Our Ego’s  will come up with numerous excuses as to why we can not meditate in order to keep us feeling safe. Here are a few.

  1. There is no time
  2. Not sure how to do it
  3. Can’t quite my mind
  4. Convinced it will not work
  5. It is something different and I am too old to change my habits

If you read these reasons and see yourself, you are not alone, trust me. Learning to meditate and then developing a habit takes time.  The first step is to  explore what may not feel safe to you about being still and quiet. Before sitting down to meditate I will ask myself this question, “do I feel safe?”  If the question is no I will NOT proceed. I will explore my feelings of unsafety. This may take a few moments or it may lead to deeper self inquiries.

When you begin your meditation practice with this question, you will find the excuses falling away, and your meditative practice will become easier and deepen over time.

Let me end with this.  I started meditating on a regular basis when I was 20 years old.  That was 27 years ago.  I have had a lot of time to practice and figure out what works and what does not work for me.  Give yourself some time. Be patient and gentle, there really is no rush.

Chonteau is leading a group of women in August 2017 for a Women and Stillness Meditation Retreat at Lake Louisa State Park.  Three days of tapping into your inner power and reconnecting with nature and yourself. If you are interested in this intimate group setting please  follow this link:  Link to learn more  and to set up a chat.  We are accepting deposits and inquiries.  All of Chonteau’s events  are uniquely designed for deep reflection and self transformation.  Please enjoy our slideshow from our Women’s Weekend.  



Welcome Home

When I was younger, I would hear my mother say welcome home to my dad as he walked into the house. It was also customary for anyone coming home to say “I am home.” as we walked in  the door.  Funny I have not thought of that in many years.  I have modeled that same philosophy within my own family and it just has not caught on, however that does not stop me from greeting my children and spouse with hardy good to see you when they come home.

I had a client say to me “I feIMG_0214el like I have just welcomed myself home and I didn’t even know, that I was gone. I remember when she first came to see me.  She was a reluctant soul, she was not sure she wanted to talk to me but some part of her knew she needed too.  We did the cancellation dance for many months before something turned on.  “I can’t go on like this”, she said. “I feel empty”.  I thought to myself, no one is home.

We had a great talk a few days ago as her sessions are coming to an end.  “I feel different”, she said.   She used words like comfortable, thriving, loving, compassionate, patient, complete, safe, and humorous when describing herself and her life.  I reminded her that she has learned to welcome herself home.  I would never say to my son, as he walked in the front door, “you are not welcome here because you got in trouble at school”.  I would welcome him home with open arms and then we would sit down, talk and I would seek to understand.

This is  how  we approached our healing sessions.  She was invited in, and learned to embrace who she was and where she was at. She learned to release  judgment  by embracing the concept of  self understanding.

In my early twenties I saw a Prophet and she told me I would lead people home, it is in this moment that I understand what she meant.  For me there is no greater place then HOME.

Ask yourself these questions:

  1. Am I a stranger in my own home?…….It may be time to get to know who you really are.
  2. Have I exiled myself?……. It may be time to forgive yourself and let go.
  3. Is my home abandoned, run down and boarded up?……It may be time to “sharpen your saw” and get to work remodeling from the inside out.

Let these questions help  guide you to greater understanding.  I think you have been gone long enough, don’t you think it’s time to welcome yourself home?

Become A Grocery Store Herbalist In Three Easy Steps



wildcrafted goldenrod tincture. I love talking about self care as a way of life, however not many people think about  the impact  over the counter drugs is having on their bodily systems.   Have you ever read the possible side effects on the back of some of those labels,  Scary! Did you know herbal plant medicine is a form of self care and when used effectively it can support many of our common health concerns.  Every day Dr. Oz boasts of a different herb that can assists with  concerns from nervousness to  itchy skin.  I do not know about you, but I am not willing to put myself and my family at risk on a daily basis by using over the counter drugs, if I can use  plant herbal medicine for my common health challenges.

Americans spend about $34 billion annually on alternative medicine, according to the first national estimate of such out-of-pocket spending in more than a decade. (more on this report)  This includes chiropractic, acupuncture and herbs. There is a difference between herbal supplementation and herbal plant medicine. Herbal Plant Medicine refers to the living or dried plant material that can be used as remedies.  A Grocery Store Herbalist is any person who begins to learn the medicinal properties of the herbs and spices sold in their local food market. From the produce section to the spice aisle, there are natural medicines everywhere if you know what you are looking for.

There are a few basic steps to honing your Grocery Store Herbalist skills.

  1. Get a good book.  You can really can not skip this step.  Lots of the information you find online about herbs are riddled with advertisements and false claims. Do not get me wrong there are some really great sites that are information focused, is one of my favorites. Rosemary Gladstar is a great herbalist author with quality information.
  2. Learn about one herb in the produce section.  We all like to move fast but when it comes to learning about herbs it really pays to take it slow.  Pick one herb from the produce section and read about this herb in your book.  Find out 5 things this herb is good for and how to use it in our cooking before moving on to another one.
  3. Keep a record.  We love to keep our food recipes on notes cards  so this is the same concept. As you learn about each herb write down the information. As you experiment, create recipes  and try different things keep a record.  Write down how much of the plant you used and if it worked for your concern.

On March 22, 2015 I  having a build you own medicine kit herbal workshop.  We will learn about common herbs and spices, and how to use them for common ailments. I will demonstrate numerous ways to create natural remedies and answer all your questions of how to use herbal plant medicine  safely and effectively for you and your family.  I have been a practicing community herbalist for nearly 20 years and helping others care for themselves by using  easy to find herbs and spices is a gift I love sharing.  I look forward to supporting you on this leg of your holistic living journey.



A Life Long Journey To Worthiness

Do you know what it is like to suffer from low self esteem? Have you ever walked into a room with other people and felt like you did not belong,  your mind  preoccupied with “am I good enough”.  Low self esteem manifests itself in our lives  in many different ways.  For me, it showed up in not putting forth 100% in life, or settling for second best.   Low self esteem  has shown up as procrastination, fears of moving forward, self sabotage  and manifesting “friends” that were  overbearing and demanding of my time.

Reflecting back in my life I realized I suffered from low self esteem for a very long time.  In general I  had a poor image of myself and placed little value on my self worth. I must admit I, hid it very well.  I never made outward statement of negativity towards myself and  I was usually upbeat and positive about life, however the negative  self talk was enough to keep  the inner cycle of violence alive and well within me.

This brings me to how I began to change my mind and thus, changed my life.  It was not a fast process, in fact the process of self development and self improvement never ends and the end goal becomes less and less  important.  This was  actually one of the first steps in the process of changing  my mind and healing my low self esteem, do not focus on the end result, focus on the journey.

The second step was to  make a commitment to  heal, not fight, nor conquer my feelings of worthlessness. Healing implies that I am seeking a peaceful solution.  I seek to collaborate with myself, not beat myself up further. Healing also implies that even though the  inner wounds have healed over, there may be times when it is tender and will need my attention again.

The third step which helped me to heal my low self esteem was to introduce a new set of spiritual  life tools.  In order to introduce new tools I had to learn them.  This meant that I going to have to research, ask questions and begin to share my “secret” that I did not have it all together.

As you can imagine I have been on this journey a very long time and I have no intentions of getting off this trail  now.  It has been extremely rewarding, so much that I have created a Life Coaching practice to support  others in their  healing journey.  You may be surprised to know that there are many Healers, like myself that have suffered and suffer from low self esteem.  There is a significant amount of shame associated with being a Practitioner and  admitting that you suffer from some of the same challenges you are supposed to be helping others with. Consider getting on this trail of wholehearted living with me.  I assure you, you will NOT find the pot of gold at the end of your trail, you WILL however, find your  gold pieces all along the way.


Chonteau will be facilitating a day workshop on Jan 10, 2015 titled: Change Your Mind Change Your Life ~ The Power of Creative Visualization.  She will share many of the Spiritual life tools she has learned  and utilized over the last  24  years to heal her low self esteem and other challenges. Chonteau left her career as a Social Worker to pursue her passions of  supporting, educating and empowering  Healers and others to live wholeheartedly. She has also started a virtual holistic herbal academy, Intuitive Herbal Mentor where she empowers women to awaken to the herbalist within.



Standing Tall


One year ago this month I left the pseudo security of my profession and employment of 20 plus years and ventured off into the rewarding and risky life of a full time entrepreneur.  This year has not been without challenges and triumphs and I have learned a lot about standing tall.  I’ll tell you though,  I had an unlikely companion join me on my journey.

I like to think we met at just the right time.  I was  on my daily morning walk, it was a path I have walked for years.  This day,  my eye caught a brilliant yellow.  Growing on the edge of a field was a   patch of goldenrod weeds. In my herbal studies I have learned, to truly know a plant’s medicines it is best to journey with that plant for a least one year.  I also learned the importance of visiting  plants in their habitat as many times as you can within each season.  Somehow my new green  friend knew, I needed her wisdom.

In Florida, goldenrod (Solidago) blooms from late September through December.  Her amazing golden flowers stretch out from the main stalk in rows. The stems and  golden  flowers  look like arms stretched out to heaven.  Goldenrod has one major stalk that  is tall, sturdy and strong. Her stalk  reminds me of a spine and the leaves look like our vertebrae. To me, her taste is a combination of  sweet and pungent. She makes a wonderful herbal infusion and  has been known as a seasonal allergy remedy and has wonderful anti inflammatory  properties.  Goldenrod literally looks like a rod sticking out of the ground. I have used goldenrod as a tincture, syrup, facial toner, and infusion.

Every day I went for a walk and I would commune with my green friend.  Even when the appeal of those magnificent flowers were gone, I continued to greet her every morning.  There were times when I struggled to see my own blooms of my business.  It was hard to stand tall on many days but each time I passed goldenrod I was reminded that I would bloom again.  There were months when goldenrod did not grow.  She was at a standstill in her expansion.  However she reminded me that when we are not expanding outward we are deepening inward.  We are gathering our strength and tools for our emergence.  Do not worry she told me just keep standing tall.

This month, I had my herbal students come for a day long class and we spent some time with goldenrod.  While I prepared for the class,  I realized how much goldenrod had taught me.  She taught me to have a backbone and not to be afraid to reach for my highest potential.  She also showed me how to stretch my arms out wide to  receive and surrender.  She reminded me in times of stillness, just because I do not see any growth, does not mean it is not happening.

It was when my herbal stphoto (25)students and I sat around goldenrod, I  realized how much she had supported me throughout the year.  We sat around her singing a goldenrod song and she called us all to  stand up and reach for the gold in our lives. She called us to be open and receive our blessings.  I gathered some of her golden  flowers and leaves and made a syrup.  I drink a little each day and as I do I am reminded to not to worry but stand still and keep stretching for gold.



This morning I woke up and went on my morning walk.  I began wondering what unlikely companion was going to join me this year. I do not know…. but I am so excited to find out.

Our Women’s  Intuitive Herbal Mentor Online  Program reopens in January 2015. We will start in April 2015.  I am open to mentoring 5 amazing women who are ready to learn from the plants like they have never done before.  We do not just learn about the plants we learn about ourselves and build our wise woman wisdom for life.

My Inner Family

The Power of Creative Women April 23 – June 18 Nightlife in Bali The Beat Magazine

Ida Ayu Wiadnyani Manuaba, Putu Suriati, Kartika Sudibia, Nina Packer, and Cheryl Tonkin

In my early twenties I began to explore my inner world.  I learned my inner world was the world behind my eyes.  My father used to tell me my inner world was my mind.  This was I place I could make sense out of chaos.  For him “traveling” into the depths of his mind was his way to find understanding. I followed his lead and began to explore my mind as a place to make sense of my life.

My journey lead me to a little book titled Creative Visualization by Shakti Gawain.  It was through her teachings I learned about my  “inner family” or my parts. In those early days of my exploration I called my parts my spirit guides, however as years went on and I evolved in my understanding I came to know my spirit guides as my parts.

My parts can be described as different personas or archetypes that live inside of me.  I often view them as my inner family members.  Sometimes they get along and other times they are at odds. When they work together my life seems to move smoothly. However when my inner family is experiencing conflict or not working together then I may feel stagnant or stuck.

For example, if I want a new job and there is an opportunity in front of me, but I do not take advantage of it because I feel conflicted between wanting to move forward and staying where I am at,  I might feel overwhelmed and  frustrated, thus causing me to not make a decision.  This in turn causes more internal dialogue that may be negative.  If however, I choose to view this inner conflict as my inner child being very scared to move forward and not feeling safe with new things, this might explain why my inner child is sabotaging new opportunities. By looking at this situation through the lens of parts work I can now have a focus for my inner healing work.

This is a very abbreviated way of explaining parts work, however it has been through this type of self study that I have moved beyond many barriers, healed old wounds and gained self confidence. I use the  parts work model  with other lifestyle techniques with most of my clients and they have seen amazing results with self transformation.

My intention for sharing this information is, for you to  begin to learn other ways of coping with life’s stressors.  The more ways we have to cope with our life’s hurdles the better. Consider these helpful hints when exploring your inner family or parts:

  1. Read fairy tales and fables.  Ask yourself what characters do your resonate with and why.
  2. Begin to meditate daily.  The practice of exploring your inner world will help you connect with your parts.
  3. Keep a journal and start writing down your inner dialogue.  Read what you write  because hidden in your dialogue are your parts speaking to one another.

Our inner world is vast and mysterious, it is not about mastering my mind but embracing  the possibilities of understanding what resides there. As Angeles Arrien says, “become a good tracker of your life” happy exploration everyone.

flower essence website Recently I was working some flower essences and they revealed to me their desire to support people in their process of working with their inner family archetypes. I created this set of 4 flower essences from the flowers in my garden.  Flower essences are a vibrational natural remedy that supports our wellbeing and brings harmony to our inner ecosystem. The effects of flower essences are very gentle and subtle.  Learn more about my Inner Harmony set of 4 blends.

Are You Thriving or Surviving?


image by Cbetrah Bereba

image by Cbetrah Bereba

I did a talk recently titled “Are You Surviving or Thriving” with business owners.  It was a great conversation and prompted many of us to self evaluate.  My work as a Social Worker kept me around clientele that were surviving each day.  There were three main areas that my clientele struggled with: 1. safety 2. homelessness and 3. lack of nourishment.  I talked about how many of us, though we seem to have it together on the outside, are struggling with these same themes.  Many of us are starving emotionally and  feeling unsafe which is causing us to remain in survival mode.  When we are in survival mode creating inner peace is very difficult and we stifle our abundance.

In preparing for this speech, it brought up my own unpleasant  memories of being in survival mode.   Have any of you ever worked for the most amazing agency while doing the most amazing work?  Have you ever felt so connected to your coworkers that going to work was not work at all?  I would say I worked in an environment that thrived. For numerous years I felt valued, encouraged and  supported by a thriving community.

Things begin to change and the supportive thriving community no longer supported me in a way that I needed.  In essence it became unsafe, I began to feel disconnected or homeless, and yes I was starving for validation and encouragement.   As you can guess I entered into survival mode. I figuratively dodged bullets, hid in my cave and when I felt backed into a corner I came out fighting.

I used every resource I new to maintain my inner peace, sometimes it was enough and sometimes it was not. I reached a point in my life when I was able to leave this environment. I have found that even though I am no longer in a hostile environment it has taken almost of year of consistent inner work to shift from survival mode to thriving mode. I was lucky because  the environment I have transferred to has been gentle, loving and kind.  I must say that when you are in  survival mode for any length of time old habits are hard to break.  It has been quite the journey to allow myself to trust and be supported again by the people around me.   As a business owner, I have also noticed  the more I come out of survival mode the more my business thrives.

I will let you in on a secret, a pivotal point in my healing journey as been to allow forgiveness to erode my pain.  The more I forgive those who have trespassed against me the freer I feel. With forgiveness  I can now see that “hurt people…hurt people”.  The more I have forgiven the more I am able to receive the overflow of abundance in my life.

My healing journey continues, however today I am freer of shame, guilt, and fear.  This has opened the way for me to be a greater vessel of healing for others and that is what thriving is all about.